Rashid Khan vs Delhi Golf Club: Career at Stake as Row Continues
Cameraperson: Sumit Badola
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Indian golfer Rashid Khan, winner of two Asian Tour titles, has now threatened to quit the sport and give up on his Olympic dreams if the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) doesn't allow him to use its facilities.
Khan has been embroiled in a feud with the DGC for a considerable period of time.
Among hosts of other things, Rashid has accused the club of not supporting professional golfers like him. Meanwhile, the DGC has vehemently denied all claims made by Rashid, instead accused him of bringing disrepute to a club from where he learnt his trade.
The Quint had a chat with both the warring parties, Rashid Khan and the DGC, on Tuesday, 15 January 2019.
Restricted Playing Hours
The 27-year-old golfer, who turned pro in 2010, reiterated to The Quint his grievance regarding reduced playing hours for professionals, who are non-members and how his membership application wasn’t considered by the DGC, leaving him in a lurch since February 2017.
“We need more time for practice. Right now, what they (DGC) have said is that we can tee off only after 4.45 in the evening, which is not going to help us. If I tee off at 4.45 pm, I will be able to play only five holes. But for me, a professional golfer, we need at least 8-10 hours of practice.”Rashid Khan, Indian Professional Golfer
When The Quint approached DGC with the query, DGC President Maj (Retd) Ravinder Singh Bedi was quick to point out that reduced playing time applied to all members as well as non-members of the club and it was only confined till the winter months, when the days are shorter, in order to accommodate everyone.
“In terms of practice, in the winter months we have short days and, therefore, we impose restriction virtually on everyone because of the shortage of time and many people want to play because of good weather and we have strict set of rules even for our regular members.”Maj (Retd) R S Bedi, President, Delhi Golf Club
According to Bedi, Rashid is among the few who has been given playing rights by the club, which means he doesn’t have to pay a green fee, which is the charge a non-member pays for playing one round of golf at the club.
Rashid’s Membership Application?
Though Rashid states that he had sent his membership application way back in February 2017, Bedi has dismissed his claims, saying there is no record of him applying for any membership with the club.
Meanwhile, Bedi said even if Rashid had applied for a membership in 2017, even then there is a minimum of thirty years of waiting time before any applicant can get any membership in the club, thwarting any hope of Rashid becoming a member any time soon.
Since the DGC is on a leased land, with the custodian being the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), they do enjoy privileges and quota at the club.
According to Rashid, the MoUD had recommended his name and even asked the DGC to give him a membership at the club under the professional quote, but the DGC officials never paid any heed to it.
But Bedi was again quick enough to deny receiving any kind of letter from MoUD specifically for Rashid Khan. As far as member quota was concerned, Bedi clearly mentioned that it was the club’s prerogative, governed by the Articles of Association.
“In a response to MoUD, over year and a half ago, we had said that MoUD, who is the landlord here, have privileges and quota, and whatever quota they wish to give anyone is their prerogative. But rest of the quota, which is there for the members is governed by the Articles of Association.”Maj (Retd) R S Bedi, President, Delhi Golf Club
Other Options For Rashid
Delhi Golf Club is the not the only golfing facility in the National Capital Region (NCR). DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon and the Jaypee Greens Golf Course in Greater Noida are other two world-class golfing facilities available to golfers in NCR. Not to forget, Qutab Golf Course in New Delhi.
So, clearly Rashid does have other option, but it is the financial constraint which is becoming a barrier, according to him.
“I can go to Noida, but the problem is, if I go there and practise for a day, it will cost me around Rs 2,500. If I go to DLF, it will be Rs 10,000 a day. I come from a background where I used to get Rs 10 a day when I was junior to go to the golf course and come back. I won’t be able to spend Rs 10,000 a day.”Rashid Khan, Indian Professional Golfer
But Bedi claimed that Rashid has been on tour for quite a long time and now he earns in six figures, so paying and playing shouldn’t be a problem.
“I am sure today he (Rashid) is a top-rated professional and his earnings are in six-figures. If he wishes to play like anyone else, then he can pay green fees. He can afford to pay green fees. But we are doing what we can do within our limitation.”Maj (Retd) R S Bedi, President, Delhi Golf Club
Meanwhile, Bedi, too, questioned Rashid’s intention of not approaching Qutub Golf Club, which is owned by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), for membership or playing rights.
DGC: Private or Government Entity?
As Rashid argued that DGC is not a private golf course as it has been leased out at a subsidised rate of Rs 5-6 lakh per year, Bedi countered that the terms and condition of the lease has no binding on the rules and regulations of the club.
“We (DGC) are on a leased land. There are terms and condition of the lease, which we adhere to very, very strictly. So that is one aspect. The club is ruled by the Articles of Association. The Articles of Association lay down all manner in which this club has to function. And Articles of Association are sacrosanct that cannot be amended until and unless you have a 70 per cent majority,” explained Bedi.
Promotion of the Sport
Rashid, who has won two Asian Tours and is also a silver medallist at 2010 Asian Games, lamented the fact that despite being a helm for promoting the sport in the region, the DGC has hardly gone out of their way to do anything. One of his biggest complaint is that how senior citizens, who are not competing at professional level, get preference over pro, amateur and junior golfers.
“How are you promoting golf? If you are not allowing amateur, junior and professional, who are fighting for India to get a medal in the Olympics, Asian Games & SAARC Games. But you are giving the golf course to members who are sixty and seventy years old. They come to the golf course and instead of five hours for eighteen holes they take seven hours.”Rashid Khan, Indian Professional Golfer
But according to Bedi, DGC has the best golf programmes in the country. Starting from junior training programmes, for boys, girls and student members. He states that whoever has the talent he or she is given playing rights, free coaching and free balls.
“So, our objective is very clear. It is not only our charter but our desire to promote the game of golf because it is an Olympic sport now. Our training programme from the age six onwards is continuous. In fact, Rashid Khan and other professionals have come up through the system,” boasts Bedi.
With no solution in sight as both parties blame each other for complete disinterest in negotiation and peace talk, we can only hope that this feud doesn’t take any toll on Rashid’s golfing future and put the DGC’s reputation at stake.
(This story was originally published on 15 January, 2019 and later updated on 27 May, 2019 to reflect the latest developments)